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Hubble Photographs of the Planets

Here are photos of the planets taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (shown here on the right). 

You won�t see this level of detail from an 8� terrestrial scope, but this will give you an idea as to what you�re looking for. A few things to note:

  • even the Hubble doesn�t pick up a lot of detail of the surface of Saturn;
  • you need extremely good atmospheric seeing conditions to see this kind of detail on Mars;
  • and, you need a lot more light-gathering power than an 8� mirror to resolve this level
    of detail of Uranus or Neptune.


Mars *

(Click on this image for a larger photo)



(the latest image from the Cassini spacecraft)



* Note: The Mars photo above was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope with Mars in its closest opposition in a decade, and is regarded as the best photograph of Mars ever taken from Earth (pre-2003).

If you want to learn more about the planets, a book I recommend is The Planets - Portraits of New Worlds by Nigel Henbest, Penguin Books, 1994.  It provides good details describing current thinking about each planet and its moons, and is illustrated with the photographs taken by the Voyager spacecraft in the late 1980s.  There are very few photographs of the planets better than Voyager�s (only recently have we sent cameras out there again), and the photos themselves are worth the price of the book

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